Innovation will drive SME growth in 2019

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Innovation is not a new concept and whilst many SMEs have already put a big emphasis on embracing it.

In 2019 Chris Burke, CEO, Brickendon, thinks we we will see a larger and more focused approach to drive this agenda forward.

With over 5 million SMEs in the UK alone, competition has never been more fierce and businesses must understand the value of innovation as well as individually driving it. In 2019 the emphasis on innovation will take centre stage as SMEs adopt an increasing number of technological innovations as part of their core offerings.

As predicted, GDPR and Brexit dominated the business agendas in 2018 and trends like data analytics, digitalisation and automation also held their own throughout the year. Now, as we enter 2019, businesses will have to look for new disruptive ways of staying ahead of their competition.

At Brickendon, we believe 2019 will be ruled by the following business agendas.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Adopting AI and machine learning has become crucial for businesses looking to innovate and grow. With more and more industries adopting AI and its results clear and evident, small businesses will find it difficult to ignore machine learning and its use if they wish to remain relevant in the continuously competitive business sector.

Moreover, smart implementation of AI has the potential to help businesses reduce costs and significantly free-up internal resources thereby increasing revenues.

Making the Most of Data

While data continues to be the buzzword of the industry, 2019 will see a move beyond simply decoding data, using analysis and understanding algorithms to provide context around predictions.

Going forward, the key will be explainability and insight, along with algorithms and technology that focus on solution-based production activities. As it stands, data science has numerous proof-of-concepts in silos, but the emphasis will now shift to how to turn those concepts into scalable solutions. Businesses will need to focus on developing sophisticated software house capabilities while they work towards meeting their business goals. .

The Role of Financial Regulation

In many ways, regulation has become excessive over the past few years, with most of it emerging as a knee-jerk reaction to unexpected financial issues, errors and misconduct. These regulations also played a major role in bringing misconduct into the spotlight as such businesses that evaded these regulations previously are now facing repercussions.

In order to thrive amidst the growing regulations, businesses will have to look for innovative ways to adapt to emerging technology. Offering updated core assets will not only give these brands first mover advantage but also distinguish them from their competitors.

In 2019 the impact of regulators on the financial services sector is set to decrease, with the regulatory agenda taking on a more business-as-usual form and focusing on ongoing conduct. Regulators are however expected to take more of a pro-active approach and apply their experiences to some of the as-of-yet relatively untouched areas of business.


No 2019 predictions can be complete without considering what’s next for Brexit. With the ongoing uncertainty, there is no doubt that Brexit will continue to be a big driving factor for businesses globally.

The biggest risk to any business is uncertainty and the longer the process takes, the more likely firms are to look for jurisdictions where they can make long-term decisions with confidence. All businesses, but especially those in financial services, should be prepared not only for multiple scenarios and ongoing change, but also to survive any potential crises caused by major uncertainties which come out of the finalisation of the Brexit deal.

Future of the workforce

With AI and machine learning revolutionising the way businesses operate, the workforce will go through enormous transition to prepare for the future. 2019 will see more automation through machine learning and robotics, changing the need in the workforce from repetitive and predictable tasks to more strategic and value-adding roles. This is not to say that we will see a significant reduction in the workforce as the increased ability via AI and robotic process automation (RPA) will also proportionally increase the expectations from customers, regulators and agents.

As a result, 2019 may bring financial services and technology firms closer as they work in tandem to add more value to the service they provide.

2019 – What’s next?

To conclude, the biggest unknown in 2019 is Brexit and its outcome is impossible to predict. Excluding this elephant in the room, 2019 is likely to see a continuation of momentum in some of the areas that have come under the spotlight in 2018.

We will see data analytics and regulation take on a significant role in shaping the future of businesses in the UK. Firms will need to be prepared to do things differently and place innovation at their core to sustain growth and market position in the turbulent markets.

As always, how things will play out precisely remains to be seen, but if 2018 has taught us anything, it is that businesses globally will need to push for innovation to be at the top of their agenda if they are to succeed in what is becoming an increasingly tight and competitive marketplace.